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calls made from the home in the moments after the shooting are shedding new light on the case against him, even those closest to picer toious rallied to his defense. nbc's michelle kosinski continues to follow developments in this case and joins us again tonight from pretoria. michelle? >> reporter: good evening, lester. oscar pistorius has been in jail here now for four days. tonight, his agent just canceled all of his upcoming races, while the press here has been full of reports quoting police sources about what allegedly happened inside his home early that morning. for oscar pistorius, another day in jail brought visits again from his sister, a local preacher -- >> he was starting to cry, the colonel telling him i come to pray with him. >> reporter: also today his agent. >> the nature of my visit was on a professional matter to discuss obviously his career, especially the plans we had made for this year. also to visit him as a friend
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and give him my moral support. >> reporter: the press here has been overflowing with every detail they can find, newspapers quote police sources now, saying they believe reeva steencamp was first shot in pistorius' bedroom, then through the bathroom door, that he then apparently broke through to try to help her, that a cricket bat is now considered a key piece of evidence. there is an interview with someone identified as his best friend, saying he got a frantic call from pistorious at 3:55 that morning. i said to him, "what are you talking about?" he then repeated himself, "there has been a terrible accident. i shot reeva." another publication refers to a sworn police affidavit reportedly given by a woman who says she was also called by pistorius at 3:20 a.m. the report claims she arrived to see pistorius carrying a gravely injured steenkamp down the stairs and that both of them tried to save her life. police say the call for paramedics was not made by picer toious. but his family strongly denies the shooting was at all intentional. his father quoted as saying he has zero doubt his son acted on
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instinct, believing he thought steenkamp was an intruder. steenkamp's father now says of pistorius, "he must be going through things we don't know about. there is no hatred in our hearts." now, with concerns over his emotional state, pistorius waits in a cell, accused of the most serious crime. remember, police have been dismissive of suggestions that steenkamp might have been mistaken from an intruder. they say shouting was heard from the home earlier that night. pistorius' bond hearing is tuesday, the same day as steenkamp's funeral. lester? >> michelle kosinski tonight, thank you. back in this country, the bipartisan effort to craft a way forward on immigration reform hit a bump in the road today when a story hit saying that the obama administration had already written up a plan of its own. that upset many republicans and sent the white house and democrats into damage control. nbc's kristen welker is in port st. lucie tonight with more on
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that. kristen? >> reporter: lester, good evening. president obama has long said if congress can't come up with an immigration reform bill, he will submit his own proposal to the hill. but now that leaked copy of his plan is inflaming an already heated debate. while president obama vacationing in florida hit the links with tiger woods in this palm city community, the immigration debate got a fresh jolt when "usa today" reported on a leaked copy of the president's immigration proposal. according to the paper, the draft bill would create a new lawful prospective immigrant visa that would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents in eight years and the plan would boost border security funding and require employers to check immigration status of new hires. >> good evening. >> reporter: that drew sharp criticism from republican
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senator marco rubio, a key figure in the bipartisan group working on immigration reform. in a statement, he said, "if actually proposed, the president's bill would be dead on arrival in congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come." >> well, let's make sure that it doesn't have to be proposed. >> reporter: today, white house chief of staff dennis mcdonough dodged the report, insisting the president has not put a bill forward yet, hoping that congress will act first. >> we will be prepared in the event that the bipartisan talks going on the hill, which, by the way, we're very aggressively supporting, if those do not work out, then we will have an option that will be ready to put out there. >> reporter: but republicans suggested the white house was playing politics. >> leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction. >> this raises the question that many of us continue to wonder about. does the president really want a result or does he want another cudgel to beat up republicans? >> reporter: democratic senator chuck schumer tried to tamp down tensions over the leaked report. >> we've talked to senator rubio and he is fully on board with our process, and i am very hopeful that in march, we will
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have a bipartisan bill. >> reporter: now, that bipartisan group of senators continues to work on immigration reform but passage remains uncertain, with lawmakers sharply divided over a number of key issues, including a path to citizenship. lester? >> kristen, i want to talk to you about another major issue. we ended the week with the president's nomination of chuck hagel as defense secretary on hold. where do things go from here? >> reporter: well, on "meet the press," senator john mccain said while he doesn't believe hagel is qualified, he also doesn't believe his nomination process should be held up any longer. the full senate is expected to vote on hagel when it reconvenes next week. >> all right. kristen welker tonight. thank you. as you just heard, one of the big issues in the immigration debate is border security. despite progress claimed by the federal government, nbc's mark potter found that for some americans who live near mexico, the border is anything but secure.
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>> reporter: in the rugged terrain south of tucson, arizona, advocates concerned about u.s. border security took matters into their own hands and placed motion-sensitive hidden cameras on known smuggling trails and this is their video, revealing wave after wave of mexican drug and immigrant smugglers, some of them heavily armed, who cross the border and travel miles north inside the united states. >> you got a trail coming in. >> reporter: it's why rancher david beckham made the painful decision to move his family off his land, 12 miles north of the mexican border, because of all the armed smugglers crossing his property, threatening his home. >> it was unsafe. i couldn't -- i couldn't see raising our children -- you know, i was afraid to let the kids go out, even during the day. >> reporter: residents here in this rugged desert say in the daytime, it is relatively quiet, but all of that changes as night falls and the land comes alive. recently, neighboring rancher jim chilton found a mexican drug smuggler's camp on his land, ten miles north of the border. the next day there, he found an
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active smugglers' trail, littered with water bottles. >> it's like living in a no man's land. the border patrol doesn't really protect us. they try to arrest people north of us mainly. >> i feel that the united states has made a decision not to guard the border where they should. we should guard the border at the border. >> reporter: the u.s. border patrol concedes that a forward operating base, designed to house agents right on the border at nearby sasabe, arizona, is currently not staffed because of budget shortages, but customs officials say the border patrol still works hard to protect the ranchers. and with increased manpower and technology, has dramatically reduced illegal border crossings. >> the fact of the matter is is that substantial gains have been made.
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we need to make additional gains. do we want them to feel safe in their homes? absolutely. >> reporter: but ranchers say they still feel unprotected on their own land, along a border they insist is not secure. mark porter, nbc news, arivaca, arizona. it was an overwhelming display of affection outside the vatican today as tens of thousands crowded st. peter's square for one of pope benedict xvi final public appearances. the pope will set step down 11 days from now, setting in motion the search for a new leader and maybe a new direction for the catholic church. nbc's anne thompson is at the vatican tonight with more. anne? >> reporter: good evening, lester. tonight, the pope is on a week-long lenten retreat inside the vatican with the days of his papacy numbered. now, every public appearance of benedict's is a must-see event. for more than 50,000 people, this was the only place to be, a global villageful the faithful and curious in st. peter's
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square to say thank you and good-bye to pope benedict xvi. >> as soon as he resigned, i knew i definitely wanted to come and witness it. >> reporter: 20-year-old thaddius howard of georgia brought an american flag. >> i wanted to let the pope know that he is supported by all of us from america. >> reporter: in six different languages, benedict addressed the crowd. >> thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me. >> reporter:? german, he spokes of his difficulty days. [ speaking german ] >> reporter: in spanish, he asked for prayers for himself and the future pope. [ speaking spanish ] >> reporter: benedict's retirement creates a situation not seen in the church in centuries, two living popes. john thavis, who covered the vatican for 30 years, says benedict is not a meddler. >> he probably will ensure that whatever he does, he would never upstage the next pope. >> reporter: while appreciated today as a holy man, critics say benedict's executive skills fell woefully short. >> there's a need for someone who has managerial skills, in
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terms of running the ship of state. neither john paul ii nor benedict were managers by nature. >> reporter: benedict's failures made public in documents leaked by his butler last year, laying out the betrayals and infighting in the vatican bureaucracy known as the curia, obscuring the pope's message and hurting his efforts to revitalize the church. how much of that can be blamed on the curia? >> i think most of it, frankly. >> reporter: george weigle, nbc's vatican analyst, says that leaves the next pope with a crucial task. >> he has to find someone who can clean house and who can make the curia an instrument of what we call the new evangelization, not an impediment to it. >> reporter: still up in the air, the date when the cardinals will actually start getting down to work to choose a new successor. currently, the conclave is scheduled to start some time
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between march 15th and march 20th, but the vatican says that date could be moved up. lester? >> anne thompson in rome tonight. thank you. here in this country, parts of the northeast are dealing with blizzard conditions for the second time in as many weeks. the storm delivered snow and very strong winds to much of new england. boston has already gotten more than five inches of snow and totals so far range from a few inches to more than half a foot in some places, with coastal areas like cape cod seeing the worst of it. the storm is expected to dump more snow in maine, which remains under a blizzard warning until tomorrow afternoon. take a look at this. although today's storm lacked the intensity of last week's blizzard, satellite images show how they look quite similar. the issue of climate change drew a big crowd, demanding action today in washington. thousands of people marched past the white house and urged president obama to take strong measures to combat climate change. they called for greater support of clean energy technologies and
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voiced opposition to the controversial xl keystone pipeline that would carry oil from canada to the gulf of mexico. there's a lot more ahead as "nightly news" continues on a sunday. a new study suggests how women may dramatically reduce the chances their children will develop autism. and later, making a difference at a school where the kids are taught they have more to give than they may think.
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we're back with health news tonight, an important finding involving autism and how women may reduce the risk of their children developing it. a study in the "journal of the american medical association" found that expanding the use of folic acid, a commonly used vitamin, had a big impact. we get more tonight from nbc's chief science correspondent, robert bazell.
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>> reporter: dr. tamara goldwasser is an ob/gyn who counsels women on how to have a healthy pregnancy. >> you're taking your vitamins -- >> reporter: she is also pregnant and knows a nutritious diet plus folic acid supplements are an important part of giving her baby the best chance for a healthy body and brain. concern starts even before the pregnancy. >> a woman's health before she becomes pregnant definitely will influence the way that her pregnancy is going to progress. >> reporter: while it is well known that folic acid can reduce the chance of certain birth defects, the latest study suggests that women who take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant may also reduce the risk of having a child with autism. the researchers followed the development of more than 85,000 children born in norway between 2002 and 2008 and tracked their progress until last year. they found that mothers who started taking folic acid supplements at least one month before getting pregnant and continuing for two months into the pregnancy had a 40% reduced
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chance of having a baby that later developed autism. >> folic acids helps to make sure that the brain cells grow at the rate that they should be growing. >> reporter: so how much of the supplement should women take? the march of dimes recommends 400 micrograms a day. experts advise that all women who think they may become pregnant should be taking folic acid continually, an important part of the effort to have the healthiest child possible. robert bazell, nbc news, new york. when we come back, the making of a president, a collection of jfk history up for sale.
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this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president john f. kennedy. and so it was no surprise that there was high interest today in an auction house -- at an auction house in massachusetts where thousands of kennedy items that belonged to a close friend and aide to jfk were auctioned off. >> the floor now at $1,000 where? $1,000?
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>> reporter: pieces of american history up for sale, materials collected over nearly 20 years, marking a friendship with an american president. it all belonged to dave powers, john f. kennedy's personal assistant and close friend. >> he was only president for two years and ten months and two days. >> reporter: powers ran the jfk library. he died in 1998. last year, his family discovered he had also kept his own collection. today, these intimate items went to the highest bidder, rare pictures of a young first couple, kennedy's presidential seal, his air force one bomber jacket and the president's schedule from that tragic day in dallas in 1963. dave powers was there, keeping notes in the margin. "my president is dead," he wrote. the auction drew hundreds of people to this small town in northern massachusetts, another
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thousand people made bids online. >> amazing amount of people. it's bogging down the biggest live auctioneer site in the world. >> it's going to be $151 -- >> reporter: james daly, a physical therapist, bought this war-time letter about kennedy's back and leg pain as a young lieutenant in the navy. >> i'm interested in this because i'm in the medical field and some of the tests that i read about in this letter are some of the same things that i do on a daily basis. >> reporter: auction officials say the money will go to dave powers' estate. >> i will always remember him for his humor and his humility and his courage. >> reporter: today, average americans had their chance to remember him, too. >> this is for the people now. this is for everybody. >> reporter: and to take home some pieces of his life. the powers family discovered the kennedy items as they were preparing the family home for sale. at daytona beach today, danica patrick earned the biggest achievement of her four-year nascar career.
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patrick became the first woman to secure the coveted pole position, the top spot in next weekend's daytona 500. she drove the 2 1/2-mile course in just under 49 seconds, averaging 196.4 miles per hour. just behind her was jeff gordon, a three-time daytona 500 winner, who congratulated patrick and said he was the fastest guy today. and this is gonna make a lot of folks see their own youth pass right before their eyes. michael jordan turned 50 today. has it really been a decade since perhaps the greatest nba star of all time retired? and almost three decades since his pro career was launched with the chicago bulls? jordan redefined how we think of basketball and air. with his air jordan brand for nike, he was and is the face behind one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history, a true all-star for all time. and up next, a school where giving back is now a lesson learned.
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finally tonight, a story that proves that almost anyone can make a difference in the lives of others. it's about a school where so many of the children are in need and yet, they are still learning one of the most valuable lessons in life, giving back.
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nbc's john yang has tonight's making a difference report. >> reporter: lorenzo r. smith elementary school in pembroke township, illinois, serves one of the poorest communities in the midwest. gravel roads, no supermarket, no gas station. school officials say 97% of the students live in poverty, their families relying on government aid to survive. nearly a third are homeless. teachers and administrators wanted to teach these children who get so much from others a lesson in giving. >> it would give them the initiative to say that i'm determined to help others because i've always been the receiver. and now it's time for me to give back. >> reporter: the school teamed with a charity in new york state called family to family, which sends them much-needed books and backpacks. >> we know that it's important to feed their hungry bellies, but we also began to realize that feeding hungry minds and feeding hungry souls would be
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just as important. >> reporter: older students choose books to give to younger ones. >> wait 'til you see what's in these boxes. >> i read books like this when i was little. >> reporter: then spend time reading to them. >> you know what letter that is? that's the letter -- >> here's a mother with their baby. >> reporter: the hope is that all the students take away something that will last a lifetime. the younger students get the joy of ownership. which one did you read today? >> i read two. >> you read both of them? >> reporter: and older students, like fifth grader omave epps, >> make a pair with floppy bear -- >> reporter: have the opportunity to pass along a love of books. >> yeah, i think i gave them a gift. if they get to my grade and do the same thing, they can encourage their kids or other students to read, too. >> if they are not taught the art form of giving, they won't know how to start off, they won't know how to do it.
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>> reporter: giving those with less the gift of giving. john yang, nbc news, pembroke township, illinois. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be here tomorrow. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. i hope you'll join me shortly for "dateline." in the meantime, for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- right now at 6:00, a bay area neighborhood on edge after two violent attacks. might be surprised to hear what police are saying about a motive also. what we're doing is providing them with the love and support they need to do the right thing. >> thousands of people hit the streets of san francisco to send the president is message following his state of the union address. and game, set, match. why the tennis tournament known as the s.a.p. open is going away
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after a century of action here in the bay area. good evening. i'm terry mcswooen knee. >> and i'm diane dwyer. no apparent motive. police are searching for a man they say beat up two women in this district. stephanie, i understand police don't believe robbery or sexual assault was the motive. >> reporter: diane, that's right. police still trying to figure out what would compel a man to do this. walking along bartlett and 23rd and got physical with a woman walking past him. you can look at the sketch they just released of this man. he actually tried to punch this

NBC Nightly News
NBC February 17, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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TOPIC FREQUENCY Steenkamp 5, Arizona 3, Nbc News 3, Vatican 3, Mexico 2, New York 2, Illinois 2, Oscar Pistorius 2, Kristen Welker 2, Pembroke Township 2, Anne Thompson 2, Lester 2, Obama 2, John F. Kennedy 2, Michelle Kosinski 2, Robert Bazell 2, John Yang 2, Hagel 2, Rome 1, Northern Massachusetts 1
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